An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

Fatshion, Food & Frivolities – Life in Las Vegas & Singapore


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Meatless Monday: Whole Wheat Bread

I made bread and it was so yum! I have to share this recipe even though it’s not mine. My friend Patrick (who loves baking bread) shared it with me and I followed his modification to make this loaf. OMG so so good! Thanks also to my cousin Megan who sent me whole wheat flour (she’s awesome that way)… hahahha!

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I once shared a Cucumber & Cheese Toasty recipe (method?) because my ex-colleague Pearlyn was sad that I couldn’t share yummy ham sandwiches with her anymore. At the same time, the purpose of this series is to encourage people to go meatless and show how many different things vegetarians can eat other than salads. Shortly after this loaf cooled, I sliced into it and had the ends with a pat of butter – OH SO GOOD!!! Also, the house was so warm and homey with the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through.

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T and I eventually ate it all up within 2 meals – I served it as a “bread platter” of cucumber/mayo and egg-in-a-hole sandwiches. So easy, so delicious! You get your carbs, protein and fibre all at once!

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The original recipe is Titli Nihaan’s Simple Wholemeal Bread – copied below without amendments from her original post.

Ingredients
  • 500 g (1 lb) strong wholemeal flour
  • 325 ml (10 fl oz) lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Mix about 4 tbsp of the water with the yeast in a small bowl and leave for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to activate.
  2. Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast and the rest of the water. Mix to form a lumpy dough.
  3. Add the oil before all the flour has been incorporated and mix well to a smooth dough.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  5. Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, cover and put in a warm place to allow the dough to double in size.
  6. Knock back the dough on a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes.
  7. Place the dough in a lightly-greased 1lb loaf tin, cover with lightly-oiled plastic wrap and allow to rise until it fills the tin.
  8. Place a tray of water in the oven and bake the bread at 190°C/375°F fan oven, 220°C/430°F normal oven, for 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
I however used 360g Whole Wheat Flour and 140g Bread Flour instead. Turned out pretty good and I might try 100% wholemeal flour the next time.

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IMG_3250IMG_3251This bread is rather dense and I thought it was great for making Egg-in-a-hole sandwiches because it holds up well. You basically just need to use a cookie cutter (or cup) to cut out a hole in a slice of bread, then plonk it onto a pan or skillet that’s already got melted butter in it. Press the slice of bread into the butter so it lies flat and then crack an egg into the hole. Don’t move the bread for the next 2 minutes and gently lift to see if the egg white at the bottom is browned (and firm). Quickly flip and seal the deal! Grill for another minute or so before removing from the pan. What I do with the cutout bread is just mop up the rest of the butter in the pan and brown it for a minute or so on each side until toasty! Easy peasy!


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Meatless Monday: Banana Cream Pie

20140127-103129.jpgThis is not my recipe but it’s definitely meatless! And hey, vegetarians love sweets too! I’m sharing this recipe because it’s delicious and this is what I served up for my first Vegas Christmas at home just about a month ago! T and I first made this together during our “mini-moon”. It was delicious and it was surprisingly easy to make.

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The Banana Cream Pie recipe came from Lynn Cole’s Facebook post –> HERE and I’ve used a store-bought Graham Pie Crust for both times I made it.

Banana Cream Pie

1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
3 cups whole milk
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 bananas

Directions:

  1. If using graham crust, brush with egg white and bake at 350 for 6 minutes or until golden.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the milk.
  3. In a glass bowl, combine the sugar, flour and salt; gradually stir in the hot milk. stirring constantly, cook until thickened.
  4. In a small bowl, have the 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten, ready; stir a small amount of the hot mixture into beaten yolks; when thoroughly combined, stir yolks into hot mixture.
  5. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  6. Remove from heat and blend in the butter and vanilla.
  7. Let sit 10 minutes.
  8. When ready to pour, slice bananas and scatter in pie shell; pour warm mixture over bananas.
  9. Let cool.
  10. Top with sweetened whipped cream and toasted coconut.
  11. Refrigerate 4 hours before serving.

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I skipped the bit with the toasted coconut (because I don’t like coconut) but it still tastes great! 


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Meatless Monday: Braised Tofu & Eggs

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Hello! I hope some of you have tried my recipes! Please tell me if you do and if you have ways of improving them.

This is a modified recipe that I used a long time ago to make braised pork belly in Soy Sauce (Tau Yew Bak). I no longer eat pork but still crave that slightly caramelly taste of this sauce. Today’s recipe is essentially Vegetarian Tau Yew Bak or Tau Yew Bak no Bak. Heehee… *Tau Yew is soy sauce. Bak refers to flesh or meat (in this instance, pork).

This braising method is easy and fuss free. I’m using dark soy sauce because it produces a darker sauce though milder in taste (less salty) compared to light soy. But otherwise it’s about the same as regular soy sauce. If you don’t have dark soy, regular soy will do too. Add a total of 5 tablespoons of light soy instead. It’ll be equally salty but lighter in colour.

What I like about this modified recipe is that, it’s fast and easy to make, yet still satisfies my craving. I love braise sauces over plain steamed rice – my kind of comfort food.IMG_2531

Braised Tofu & Eggs (Vegetarian Tau Yew Bak)

Serves 2 -4. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 45 minutes.

3 cups water

4 hard boiled eggs

4 garlic cloves (smashed with the back of a knife to release flavour)

4 tbsp dark soy sauce

3 tbsp light soy sauce

3 tbsp brown sugar

Salt & pepper to taste

1/2 block of tofu (cut into small rectangular pieces)

1 stick of cinnamon

2 star anise

3 cloves

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Method:

1. Heat up a pot with 3 cups of water and bring to boil then lower heat.

2. Add tofu, garlic, soy sauces, brown sugar, soy sauce, cinnamon, cloves and star anise. Then stir  gently to mix everything.

3. Bring to a boil then add peeled hard boiled eggs.

4. Lower the heat to medium and braise for 15 minutes.

5. Turn the heat to lowest for another 25 – 30 minutes.

6. Serve with steamed rice.

And there you have it – vegetarian tau yew bak aka braised tofu and eggs!


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Meatless Monday: Pinterest Finds

Oh wow! It’s the last Monday of the year. Such an exciting 2013 it has been for me. Several years ago, I had a list called 35 by 35 – some outrageous or challenging things I wanted to do by the time I turned 35. I scrapped that list sometime last year and decided to yahoo it. I only managed to complete 1/3 of the list yet I’ve done more than I had set out to do. The essence of the list was to keep myself on my tippy toes, get healthier as well as break out of my comfort zone. Baby steps like exercising in a mixed gym, to running a public race (yes, I was embarrassed about sweating in public and being the last person), to eating healthier. Turning vegetarian was a surprise because I just wanted to consume less meat. Long story short, I’m still avoiding foods with faces and there are many things I enjoy eating. Other than the recipes inspired by family and friends, I’ve also gone on Pinterest for guidance on how to expand my meatless repertoire. So many delicious things to eat! Nibbly things, rich bakes, roasted noms… YUM!

Here are some of my favourites of these pins in the Very Vegetarian board:

  1. Honey Parmesan Roasted Brussel Sprouts
  2. Easy Egg Muffins
  3. How to Make a Rice Ball
  4. Mozzarella Stick Recipe
  5. Gnocchi Gratin with Gorgonzola Dolce
  6. Gabrielle’s Winter Tomato and Corn Soup

Happy holidays! Enjoy eating! And see you in 2014!


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Meatless Monday: Creamy Carrot & Potato Soup

IMG_1632Most families I know have their own version of the ABC Soup (essentially carrot and potato in a clear broth that is so easy it’s like ABC). I usually cook mine with hearty chunks of carrots, potato, tomato and onions – sometimes, corn on a cob too. This is a variant that I came up with that is a cross between a creamy pumpkin soup and the ABC soup. (I even served it with my very first loaf of homemade bread on the day I made this!)

Is this fusion? Who cares! It’s vegetarian, it’s my original recipe and it’s so yummy! I think so anyway.

Creamy Carrot & Potato Soup

Serves 2 – 4. Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic

4 small potatoes

1 medium-sized carrot

1/2 medium onion chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 tablespoon meat curry powder

1/2 cube of vegetable stock

1 teaspoon rosemary (optional)

1/2 cup milk (I used evaporated milk)

3 cups water

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Method:

1. Cut carrot and 3 potatoes into smallish chunks. (The remaining potato chopped up and saved for later.)

2. Heat vegetable oil in a medium-sized pot to brown the garlic, followed by onions.

3. Add carrots and potatoes into the pot.

4. Pour water, meat curry powder, rosemary and vegetable stock cube  into the pot.

5. Turn to medium heat and simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes and carrots turn somewhat soft. Don’t forget to stir constantly.

6. Puree mixture in a food processor or stick an immersion blender into pot. Then return pureed soup back into pot (if you’re using a food processor).

7. Add salt, milk and the remaining potato chunks, then simmer for another 10 minutes (stir constantly). If the soup is too thin, add a little more milk or some heavy cream or, boil it down to preferable viscosity.

8. Serve hot with ground black pepper to taste!

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The floating bits of potato give the soup some bite. I do love a chunky soup like the New England Clam Chowder but since this soup is supposed to be CREAMY, it shall remain largely such.

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Meatless Monday: Quick Quick Quiche

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Again, I tried to be “witty” with the title but it really is a super easy quiche that can be made quickly, especially if you do it without the crust. I’ve researched several recipes and this is my final product. It is yum and easy!!! Another one of those things I’d make if I were a busy mum. This is good refrigerated for up to 24 hours, so you can prep this in advance, then pop it into the oven to warm about 45 minutes before serving (or microwave if you’re lazy).

The quiche recipe first, followed by the super easy crust (because some people want to go low carb or make it even quicker without a crust). I swear, it tastes just as great without the crust but T insisted on a crust and I had to learn to make one quickly. It works and I’ll continue working with it (and improving it along the way).

IMG_0836IMG_0887Quick Quick Quiche (Spinach & mushroom)

Serves 4 to 6. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 1 hour.

3 cups frozen spinach

1 cup chopped onions

1 cup sliced mushroom (I used fresh button mushrooms but you can get the tinned ones too)

1 tablespoon cooking oil

4 oz cream cheese

1 cup shredded cheddar

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon black pepper

5 eggs beaten

1 cup milk

1/2 tablespoon paprika

Method:

1. Heat up 1 tablespoon of cooking oil to cook the spinach, mushroom and onions. Put aside to cool.

2. If you’re using a crust, scoop cream cheese onto the bottom of the pie crust, then top with the cooked spinach, mushrooms and onions. (If not, mix in pinched dollops of the cream cheese after you pour in the egg custard in step 4).

3. Beat eggs, mix in shredded cheese, milk, salt, black pepper and paprika in a bowl.

4. Pour custard mixture into the crust or pie pan. Then cover the pan with aluminium foil.

5. Bake in a preheated oven at 400f for 30 minutes then remove the aluminium foil and bake again for another 10 – 15 minutes. This is to prevent the top from becoming too brown. Also, I put a tray at the bottom of the pan, just in case it spilled over. It actually made it a lot easier for me to carry the glass pan in and out of the oven.

6. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Simplest Cheesy Pie Crust

Prep time: 35 minutes (including 30 minutes refrigerating) Cook time: 10 minutes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons butter, cut int small pieces

1/4 cup shredded cheddar

2 tablespoons cold water (I used tap)

Method:

1. Mix flour and chopped butter by rubbing them until crumbly. I used my hands to mush mush mush!

2. Pour in grated cheddar and sprinkle water over mixture. Stir slowly with fork until a ball forms.

3. Refrigerate dough in plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes (I made mine in the morning and left it till late afternoon)

4. Preheat oven to 375f.

5. Roll out dough and spread over pie pan (I have just 1 rectangle Pyrex pan that I use for EVERYTHING because I’m not fancy). Using my fingers, I pressed the dough into the pan’s bottom and sides after I lightly grease it with cooking oil using a silicon brush. I reckon it’s rustic!

6. Poke holes at the bottom of the pastry with a fork before popping into oven.

7. Bake crust for 10 minutes before filling with quiche custard (I spread cream cheese before pouring the mixture).

TAH DAH!

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I served this for dinner with a batch of Marie Callendar’s cheese biscuits when T’s Dad and Step Mom came to stay with us for the wedding weekend. It was warm, home cooked and happy food. There was more than enough for the 4 of us!

As you can tell, my cooking is not exactly sophisticated or trained but it certainly isn’t instant or frozen foods all the time. It’s the same as my fashion philosophy. I make the best of what I have and have fun with it. I’m not a fashion lookbook and neither am I the “perfect” size to be talking about fashion. I’m not your grandmother and I’m never going to be a trained chef. But who cares? If I can do it, so can you!


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Meatless Monday: Meaty Meatless Meat Patties

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I had 5 “M”s in today’s title. MWahahhaaa… If you know me, you’ll know how much I love alliterations and puns. But really, these meatless patties taste really meaty! I think the secret is the water chestnuts and mushrooms. I believe the crunchiness of the finely chopped water chestnuts is reminiscent of crunchy cartilage (my sister used to call them “soft soft bone”) and the mushrooms gives these patties a chewy meaty texture.

These are super fast and easy to make. Over dinner, T said he really liked them and suggested that I make them a little bigger and put them in burgers or in wraps. Then again in the middle of the night (maybe 3 or 4am) T turned to me and said “those meatballs were really good”. Of course, they weren’t meat balls in the traditional sense (and they aren’t even round) but that made me very happy! I will experiment some more and find a way to make ROUND Veggie Meatballs – easy and cheap! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these! (Do note that I have included 2 ways of cooking them – baked and fried.)

Meaty Meatless Meat Patties

Serves 4 (makes about 20 cookie-sized patties). Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 15 – 20 minutes depending on baked or fried.

1 cup breadcrumbs (I crushed about 6 large saltines for this)

1 cup all purpose flour

1 large egg

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts (I bought a small tin of these)

1 cup chopped mushroom

1 cup low fat shredded mozzarella cheese

1 tablespoon basil

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon pepper

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

5 tablespoons cooking oil (if you’re planning to fry instead of bake)

Method:

1. Season the all purpose flour by adding salt, pepper, basil and rosemary and mix it all up.

2. Add breadcrumbs and mix.

3. Chop up onions, water chestnuts and mushroom to as small as you can but still allowing it to remain chunky enough for some bite.

4. Throw onions, water chestnuts, mushrooms, egg and mozzarella into the bowl and mix thoroughly with your hand.

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These are the prettier but less healthy version:

5. Heat up 5 tablespoons on oil in your pan.

6. Scoop up a little dollop with a spoon then drop them in hot oil.

7. Pat with a kitchen towel to soak up excess oil. Serve hot and crispy!

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To bake them (healthy version):

5. Heat up oven to 350degF.

6. Make patties and plonk them onto a pan. Remember to space them apart.

7. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven and let cool.

These baked ones are great for freezing then reheating as and when needed!


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Meatless Monday: Homemade Veggie Steaks

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First of all – DO YOU LIKE MY NEW DINNERWARE?!?! Special thanks to my cousin Megan for my birthday presents and Amazon for building relationships across the globe with their delivery service! This is the Corelle Living Ware 16-pc dinnerware set, a service for 4 which includes dinner plates, side plates, soup bowls and 4 blue mugs. I love it! I think the white plates show off the food better. T bought those green stoneware because he liked that they were unusual. The colour and shape didn’t quite work for what I was trying to do with taking picture of my food though… We do still use them on a daily basis. This Corelle set is, for now, just for show. Heehee…

Back to today’s recipe – Homemade Veggie Steaks. They were modified from several meatloaf recipes, then I was inspired by T’s Aunt K who made us these yummy veggie burgers while we were in New York. Aunt K said that she used to follow a recipe and the base is essentially beans but she now dumps whatever leftovers in the hand-shaped patties and they’re delish! So because I didn’t have a meatloaf pan or any kind of baking pan, I hand shaped them. Also, I had extra ingredients in the refrigerator which I incorporated into this dish (I’ve listed them as optional below but feel free to add your own extras for your own flavour).

You will never feel left out when your friends and family are tucking into their juicy steaks again. While I do love salads, I think there’s no challenge in being vegetarian when you’re always eating salads (does that make sense?). Do enjoy my Meatless Meatloaf Veggie Patty in a Hurry Homemade Veggie Steaks!

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Homemade Veggie Steaks

Serves 4 (or 2 famished souls. Prep time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 45 minutes.

2 eggs

1/2 cup flour

1/2 medium onion diced

1 cup shredded mozzarella (any shredded cheese will do just as well)

2 slices of toasted bread ends (crushed to make bread crumbs)

1 cup finely chopped mushrooms

2 large potatoes – peeled, boiled and mashed to chunky pieces

1 cup mashed silken tofu (optional)

1/2 cup carrots (optional)

Finely sliced spring onions (optional)

1 tablespoon of butter

1 teaspoon olive oil (or some butter to grease the baking pan)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoon mustard

4 tablespoon tomato past/pasta sauce/ketchup

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350degF

2. Mix all ingredients together except sugar, mustard & tomato paste (this is more textured and flavourful compared to ketchup).

3. Split the mixture into 4 equal parts

4. Roll each part into a ball and press down on a lightly greased pan to form a patty. (Just rub some butter or drizzle olive oil to grease the pan.)

5. Slide into the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes then flip over and bake for another 15 minutes. (Mine fell apart at the sides but it doesn’t have to be perfect).

6. Mix tomato paste, mustard and brown sugar in a separate bowl while waiting. (Microwave for 1 min to heat sauce just before serving.)

7. Remove patties from oven and pour some sauce over each patty upon serving.

I think if you make the patties smaller, they can be considered a side dish rather than eating it like a steak. I’m trying to figure out how to modify this recipe further so that they can be grilled for burgers! Any ideas? Please share!


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Meatless Monday: Cucumber & Cheese Toasty

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Before you roll your eyes and go -” WHAT?! I don’t need a recipe for making a sandwich!! This post is a waste of my time!”, let me first explain that I didn’t set out to teach people how to cook and this isn’t really a food blog. I just want to point out that there are various ways you can go meat-free on Mondays without thinking that it’s just salad or rabbit food. Maybe in the next post, I’ll tell you to go have milk and cereal for breakfast because it’s meatless (and hence tah dah… one meat-free meal in the day, two more to go!).

So anyway, I wanted to actually call this Cucumber Sandwich #1 and then go on to show you how many yummy different ways you can put thin crunchy slices of cool cucumber between the bread of your choice and eat a cucumber sandwich everyday for 5 days in a row without being sick. But to begin with I thought I’d just be a little more explicit in the title – this “recipe” has cucumber and cheese and toasted slices of bread. Maybe in the comments you’ll share with me your method for making the yummiest cucumber sandwiches YOU have ever eaten, so I don’t have to put up another one.

But before anything else, I would like to dedicate this post to 3 special people I love so much – Gina Ang who made some really yummy cucumber sandwiches so that this vegetarian was catered at Mylene Fong’s house party; Pearlyn Yong who was genuinely quite sad for me because I only had veggies in my sandwich after I quit the flesh and stopped eating yummy lunch meat we used to share; and my darling T who thinks that anything with cucumber in it “naturally tastes healthier”.

There are many ways to make a good cucumber sandwich – invariably though, there are 3 golden rules:

  1. Always cut off the crusts of the bread
  2. Always skin the cucumber and cut into 0.5cm or slightly thinner.
  3. Always use butter

I have no idea why but it’s true. You can add mint and cream cheese, you can use white bread, you can skip toasting the bread, but the 3 golden rules make for the best cucumber sandwiches.

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Cucumber & Cheese Toasty
Serves 1. Preparation Time: 3 minutes. Cook time: 2 minutes.
Cucumber
4 slices of bread
Salted butter
Low-fat mayonaise
2 slices cheddar cheese
Method:
1. Toast your bread lightly and trim off crust.
2. Peel off the skin of your cucumber and slice thinly at an angle.
3. Spread mayo over your toast and put cheese on top of that slice.
4. Put cucumber slices next to the buttered side of another slice of toast. (Cucumber must always be next to the butter.)
5. Cut into triangles and serve.
And that’s how you make a very simple meat-free meal for breakfast or tea! It doesn’t have to be expensive, it doesn’t have to be complicated.


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Meatless Monday: Tofu Omelette

This is a power protein dish – to me.

20130918-092443.jpgIt’s not everyday that I feed T so much for breakfast – we usually have soy milk, cereal and yoghurt. But because I was giving him less for lunch on this particular day, I thought I should help him load up a little bit more. Also, we had a conversation a few days ago about vegetarians getting enough protein fuel through different foods. He’s a big guy and he thinks he hasn’t been eating enough protein for his weight.

So anyway, if you don’t eat meat, what are your sources of vegetarian protein? Not all protein need to be from animal flesh. Did you know that whole grains like quinoa, whole grain bread and brown rice are great for protein. Also, beans, nuts, soy, nuts and eggs!

This high protein recipe for tofu omelette is quick and easy to make. I served it with a side of steamed spinach and a grilled cheese sandwich for a power-packed breakfast! You can eat it any time of the day too!

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Tofu Omelette

Serves 1. Prep Time: 2 minutes. Cooking time: 5 minutes.

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons worth of chopped spring onions

1 tablespoon of vegetarian oyster sauce (mushroom flavoured)

1 cup of mashed silken tofu (about half a normal brick and mashed crudely with a fork)

1 tablespoon of cooking oil (or a small pat of butter)

Method:

1. Mix oyster sauce, 2 tablespoons of chopped spring onions and 2 large eggs in a bowl.

2. Heat up cooking oil in pan.

3. Pour egg mixture into pan and turn heat up on high.

4. Spread the mashed tofu over the egg mixture immediately.

5. Take a lid and cover your pan. Then turn heat down to medium for 30 seconds.

6. When the edges cook and become firm (you can test by trying to lift the omelette), fold the omelette in half (some of the tofu will spill but it doesn’t matter).

7. Turn off the heat and cover your pan with a lid for 1 minute.

8. Serve hot with a sprinkle of the remaining chopped spring onions.

TAH DAH!!! Easy peasy!!!

If you only eat egg whites (that’s where most of the protein come from anyway), then instead of 2 large eggs, use 3 egg whites. Feel free to add pepper to taste but I don’t think salt is necessary as the oyster sauce is quite salty as it is.